Immigrants demand rights under EU directive

MORE than 800 people took part in a demonstration on Sunday demanding the immediate enforcement of the European Directive allowing legal immigrants from third countries to gaining residency rights after completing five years on the island.

The protest was organised by the Movement for Equality, Support and Antiracism (KISA).

Calling the protest, KISA denounced “the Cypriot government and Interior Ministry’s failure to inform immigrants on EU accession, as was their obligation, but also the failure to take any measures to enforce the directive.”

Sunday’s protest approved a petition calling for the immediate adoption of measures that would ensure the rights of immigrants in line with the Directive, the issuing of temporary residence permits for all immigrants covered by the Directive and the immediate termination of pursuits, arrests and deportations of immigrants who have applied for residency after legally spending over five years in Cyprus.

The demonstration ended after a short march through central Nicosia to the Interior Ministry, where the petition was handed to a Ministry representative.

Meanwhile, KISA has opened an internet caf? and call centre on Arsinoe Street in old Nicosia especially for immigrants. And provided the necessary financial aid is found, the Movement is planning to expand the area and turn it into a Cultural and Educational Centre.

“The idea is to turn the ground floor into a Cultural Centre, which will also be educational,” KISA president Doros Polycarpou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. “We are trying to create an area that can be used by immigrants for various events, Greek language lessons and information.

“We are planning to organise monthly events where immigrants can meet and discuss various subjects that concern their countries of origin. The centre will be managed by a committee consisting solely of immigrants and will be independent.”

According to Polycarpou, the recently opened internet caf? has been a success. “It is a very nice place where immigrants gather on a daily basis and meet people from their own countries and spend time with each other; it is not just used for its computers.

They feel comfortable being surrounded by their compatriots; they don’t feel like they are being looked at because they are different.”

And KISA does not stand to gain anything from the new centre, he pointed out. “Any money raised will go towards rent and maintenance costs. If there is anything left over, then it will go to the immigrants.”